Taha Bouhafs acquitted of state defamation complaint

Journalist Taha Bouhafs in Paris, February 21, 2020.

The Paris judicial court announced Thursday, September 14, the acquittal of journalist and activist Taha Bouhafs, targeted by a defamation complaint from the State. In a tweet published following the death of two young people in Grenoble in March 2019, he questioned the action of the police and called for the resignation of Christophe Castaner, then minister of the interior.

On March 2, 2019, in Grenoble, two young men, aged 17 and 19, lost their lives during a collision with a bus on a bridge, while they were riding a scooter without wearing a helmet and they were being chased by a police vehicle. In the hours that followed, riots took place in different districts of Grenoble. The next day, the Grenoble public prosecutor announced that the hypothesis of a collision between the scooter and the police vehicle had been ruled out.

Young people “did not kill themselves “alone”, it was the police who caused their death (…) You have to get organized”wrote Taha Bouhafs on his Twitter account (now X) on the evening of March 3, 2019. About twenty minutes later, the journalist published a new message: “Good evening, the situation is serious, two local young people aged 17 and 19 are dead [sic] because of the police in Grenoble following a chase. It is unacceptable. The neighborhoods are mobilizing, we must give them our support, Castaner must resign.” It was this last tweet that was deemed defamatory by the state judicial agent.

For the Paris court, ” About the [incriminé] emerges as the critical and virulent opinion of a journalist commenting on a current event which has sparked a lively debate within public opinion (…) and does not constitute defamation. Justice further considered that “by these comments, Taha Bouhafs calls into question the action of the police in the death of two young people, following a chase without attributing to them specific actions constituting a specific fault, which alone would make it possible to ess the possible attack on the honor and consideration of police officers in general”.

The World with AFP

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